Barri J. Morrison, DVM
By Barri J. Morrison, DVM on Aug. 18, 2023
A vet examines a dog.

What Is Epistaxis in Dogs?

Epistaxis, commonly known as nosebleeds, can vary in severity for dogs, ranging from a small trickle to a heavy flow of blood. Epistaxis refers to the presence of blood coming out of the nose, which can originate from the nostrils themselves or any location within the nasal cavity or nasopharynx, the part of the throat situated behind the nose, where the nasal passages meet the mouth. This bleeding occurs due to compromised blood vessels in this area. There are various reasons why your dog could get a nosebleed. Bleeding from the nose might indicate a problem localized within the nasal passages or a systemic issue affecting other parts of the body.

Based on one study, nosebleeds were more prevalent in male dogs aged six years and older and weighing at least 58 pounds. Although nosebleeds might be uncommon in dogs, they are never considered normal. Whether it’s a minor amount of blood from one nostril or a large flow from both nostrils, any time your dog has a nosebleed they should be taken to their vet to be examined as soon as possible.

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Why Is My Dog’s Nose Bleeding?

Epistaxis in dogs can be caused by a variety of underlying conditions. The most common causes of nosebleeds in dogs are trauma and nasal tumors.

  • Trauma—injuries to the mouth, nose, or snout due to blunt force

  • Tumor­s­—benign or malignant growths, including:

    • Cancers, often affecting the nasal passages, sinuses, or skull

    • Polyps or benign masses

  • Dental disease

  • High blood pressure

  • Clotting or bleeding disorders, including:

  • Foreign body—objects lodged in or inhaled through the nose

  • Inflammation, such as:

    • Vasculitis—–inflammatory process of the blood vessels

    • Severe allergies leading to rhinitis and/or sinusitis (inflammation of nasal passages and sinuses)

  • Infection—bacterial or fungal

  • Liver failure

  • Poison ingestion—consumption of toxic substances like rat poison

  • Drug reaction—adverse response to medications like:

    • Chemotherapy drugs

    • Estrogen

    • Sulfa antibiotics

  • Unintentional ingestion of human medications such as NSAIDs (e.g., aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen)

  • Tick-borne diseases including:

What To Do if Your Dog’s Nose Is Bleeding

If your dog experiences a minor nosebleed, you can apply simple first aid techniques at home before seeking veterinary care. However, if your dog is bleeding heavily from the nose, take them to their vet or the nearest emergency room right away.

  • Stay calm: It’s important that both you and your dog remain as calm as possible, as excitement can cause the bleeding to worsen. Dogs tend to respond to our energy and emotions, so by being calm yourself, you help lower their anxiety levels. Excitement can also lead to increased blood pressure, which might intensify the bleeding.
  • Ice pack: If your dog tolerates it, you can apply an ice pack to the top of their snout, on the bridge of the nose. The cold can help constrict the blood vessels, slowing down the bleeding.
  • Observe the source of the bleeding: Pay attention to whether the blood is coming from one or both nostrils, as this information will aid your veterinarian in diagnosing the underlying cause.
  • Avoid interventions: Do not administer any medications, nose sprays, or saline solutions into your dog’s nose unless advised by a veterinarian to do so.
  • Seek professional help: Follow up with your veterinarian right away or take your pup to the nearest veterinary emergency room for evaluation.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Nosebleeds in Dogs

If your dog has a nosebleed, your veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination and run some diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause. Your vet will ask you about your dog’s recent activities as well as their past medical history, including what medications your dog has recently been on and what trauma they might have experienced.

Common diagnostics used to identify the cause of your dog’s nosebleed may include:

  • Lab work
  • Imaging
  • Urine testing
  • Complete blood count
  • Serum biochemistry profile
  • Clotting profile
  • Tick disease panel

These tests can identify clotting disorders (such as thrombocytopenia), anemia, and liver disease, and can indicate if your pet has been exposed to rat poison. Imaging techniques such as X-rays and ultrasound may also be used to assess your dog’s internal organs and detect signs of internal bleeding. Nasal swabs and fungal cultures can also provide insight. Your vet will take your dog’s blood pressure as well, because elevated blood pressure can cause or contribute to a nosebleed.

Once your vet determines the underlying cause of your dog’s nosebleed, they can start immediate treatment to help your pup recover. In some cases, your vet might need to sedate your dog to cauterize the blood vessels in the nose to stop the bleeding, especially if trauma was involved.

In cases of infection, antibiotics and antifungal medications are prescribed. Some fungal infections might require administering medications directly into your dog’s nasal passages. If your dog is diagnosed with a tick-borne disease, antibiotics such as doxycycline are typically prescribed.

If your dog was exposed to or ingested rat poison, treatment would include vitamin K therapy and hospitalization for IV fluids, plasma and/or blood transfusions, and supportive care such as oxygen therapy. Anemia and clotting disorders are often treated with blood and/or plasma transfusions as well. Sometimes, steroid medications such as prednisone are used to help boost the immune system.

If your dog has high blood pressure, medications can be started while your veterinarian investigates potential causes, such as kidney disease. If your dog has a nasal tumor, the treatment plan might include radiation, surgery, and/or chemotherapy protocols.

Nosebleeds in Dogs FAQs

Are nosebleeds treatable in dogs?

Most causes of nosebleeds in dogs are treatable, with outcomes varying based on the underlying cause.

How common are nosebleeds in dogs?

Nosebleeds are relatively uncommon in dogs, but they are more likely to occur in older dogs or those who spend extended periods outdoors.

Can a dog’s nosebleed be caused by allergies?

While not common, nosebleeds due to allergies are possible. This occurrence is more likely in cases of long-term, often untreated allergies that affect the nasal passages and sinuses.

Featured Image:

Barri J. Morrison, DVM


Barri J. Morrison, DVM


Barri Morrison was born and raised and currently resides in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She went to University of Florida for her...

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